In the Face of a Changing Workplace, How Can You Connect With and Appreciate Remote Employees?

Remote employees are no longer an anomaly—they’re becoming more of the norm not just in the U.S., but the world, and while the advantages of these employees can be tremendous, talent management leaders are looking at how to ensure they’re well-trained, part of the company culture, and appreciated.

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Business Insider recently reported on remote employees, saying there was a 79.7% increase in the number of remote workers between 2005 and 2012.

According to research compiled by Highfive, remote workers reported 77% great productivity when they worked from home, and 53% said they felt less stressed out and overwhelmed as a result. These remote workers also said they had better health and were more willing to take on longer hours as a result of their flexible environment.

Some more interesting statistics about these remote employees, who are changing the way we do business:

  • About 3.3 million U.S. workers say they are in a remote situation at least half the time.
  • The average age of these workers is 49
  • Remote workers have an average annual salary of $58,000
  • Most are college educated
  • Most are employed by companies with more than 100 employees
  • The most common industries to see remote employees include service, management, business and financial industries and office and administrative support
  • States with the largest populations of remote workers including Florida, California, and Connecticut.

Highfive said the following about remote workers: “Empowering employees to work outside the confines of the office can result in a more satisfied and productive workforce: a win-win for the connected company.”

With all of these glowing statistics about working from home and benefits for both employees and employers, it’s still not without its challenges.

One of the primary challenges?

How do you foster a healthy relationship with remote employees, while showing them you appreciate them when they’re not working within the traditional office setting?

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Recognizing and Appreciating Remote Employees

It’s important to create a sense of appreciation and recognition for remote employees just as you do for traditional in-office employees to nurture and develop them, and also to establish a sense of loyalty and connection between these individuals and the company for which they work.

Take Advantage of Technology

One of the reasons remote employees are becoming so much more common in the workplace is because of the rise of collaborative-based technology that makes for a more interconnected workplace, no matter where employees might be located in the world. Along with the usual suspects like Skype and FaceTime, other great collaborative resources include:

  • Wimi: Wimi is not as much about socializing with remote employees as it is about bringing together collaborative work tools in one place to improve overall productivity. Wimi features group to-do lists, shared calendars and even in-house video conferencing technology.
  • Aha!: This is a really unique project management and collaboration tool that provides road mapping software, so users can first create strategies before their ideas are put into structured charts. You can also integrate it with other applications.
  • HipChat: this is a must-have for businesses with remote workers. It features group and private chat capabilities, file sharing and integrations. It’s known for delivering a strong focus on security, and you can do everything from video calling to screen sharing within HipChat. The tool bills itself as the perfect way to take your office with you wherever you go and integrations include Mailchimp, Zen Desk, JIRA, BitBucket and more than 80 other options.

Have Virtual Face-to-Face Interactions

With all the mention of technology listed above, there’s no reason you can’t have face time with your remote employees, at least on a monthly basis, if not weekly.

Just seeing your face and connecting, even if it’s in a virtual setting, is often enough to strengthen your employees’ sense of loyalty. Some of the best leaders of remote employees will even go so far as to have a Skype video call to check-in with these workers every day, all though this isn’t, of course, feasible for every manager.

Manage Expectations

One of the more frustrating elements of working remotely is that workers may not have a clear idea of what’s expected of them, and how often they’re supposed to be available. Remote employees often end up working much more than the traditional 40-hour work week because it’s expected by managers they should always be on call.

Don’t assume that remote employee means you’ll have access to them day, night and on weekends.

Let them know upfront what is expected of their work schedule, when you should reasonably be able to reach them and what guidelines for being online are.

Create Group Meetings

Showing appreciation and creating a connection with remote employees isn’t just about interacting yourself with these workers—you can also build this connection by having other employees interact with one another.

Consider holding weekly or monthly virtual staff meetings, where the efforts of top performers are recognized “in front” of everyone. It also helps employee productivity and loyalty to be able to connect a face with the people they’re emailing and working with every day.

Establish Holiday and Special Event Celebrations

When you’re working in a traditional office setting, often holidays and employee birthdays are celebrated by everyone, so try to establish similar traditions to foster a remote workforce that feels more appreciated.

It could range from everyone taking off from work an hour early to sending out birthday cards that everyone can see. Just little things can go a long way to foster stronger relationships and ties among remote workers.

You can also use these opportunities as a chance to promote more casual and less work-related conversation. When you’re working remotely, you tend to interact only about business-related topics, but this doesn’t accurately reflect the in-person work environment. Get to know your employees and ask questions about their lives, families, and activities outside of work.

Give Small Tokens of Appreciation

Often in-person work environments include regular little tokens of appreciation like catered lunch or holiday gifts. You can do the same in a remote environment. Send over an Amazon gift card for a job well done or send them a basket of gourmet coffees if they land a big account.

Don’t forget how far the little things can go, and just because they’re remote employees doesn’t mean they won’t feel great about receiving little things to let them know they’re doing a good job.

December 7, 2015   Updated :November 16, 2016   Remote, remote workers   

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